October 26, 2005, 5:14 PM — It was the late, lamented Douglas Adams who observed that there is no known language containing the simile
"as pretty as an airport" .
I travel a reasonable amount on business and with the possible exception of the arrivals area in Dublin
airport, I have to agree with Mr. Adams. Actually, I fully agree with Mr. Adams. The rose tinted glasses with which
I view the arrivals area in Dublin Airport is the result of a "coming home" feeling. It is not the result of
architectural splendor or sublime baggage logistics or exemplary customs controls.
From a traveler's point of view, airports are survival games split into two halves - the departure experience
and the arrival experience. The departure experience is the one that drives business travelers nuts. Do you cut the
contingency time in your arrangements to get to the airport so that you can get more work done in the office?
Alternatively, do you go to the airport early, minimizing the overall stresses but resulting in more productivity
down-time than you feel comfortable with?
This was the standard conundrum some years ago. Then a wonderful thing happened in the form of WIFI.
What an utterly brilliant idea! An idea more suited to dealing with the exasperation of the aviation departure
lounge is hard to imagine. Even if, by some bizarre blip in the laws of physics, WIFI only worked in the vicinity of
large amounts of aviation-grade Kerosene, it would still be a runaway success.
By packing WIFI support in the business Swiss army knife known as a laptop, business travelers can justify
getting to the airport early, traversing the endless tapering tunnels into the alveoli known as "gates". There to sit
down with a Coffee and - get this - be as productive if not more productive than they were in their offices. No
interruptions. Relative quiet. Reliable supplies of caffeine. Quite a reasonable work environment for many
Unfortunately, airports seem to have taken the view that the relief from the endless awfulness of airports
afforded by WIFI is a luxury item and should be charged as such. Imagine if a trumped up elevator demanded
money for lounge music or for peeks in the mirror on the ascent? Imagine if a self-aggrandizing PABX demanded
money to pump Greensleeves into your cranium?
It seems distinctly odd to me. Given a WIFI hotspot so that I can work effectively. I will happily purchase the
over-priced beverages and the over-priced lunch and maybe even the over-priced golf apparel. If I'm not in the
building, the chances of me buying any of those are zero.